It’s a brave new world in New Mexico — cannabis is legal and a new industry is being built.

As of Tuesday, New Mexicans 21 and older legally can possess up to 2 ounces of cannabis or 16 grams of cannabis extract, or up to 800 milligrams of edible cannabis. An individual now can grow marijuana at home, perhaps a smart choice for those who consume. Until April, only medical marijuana patients legally can purchase the plant in New Mexico.

Much has to happen in the next few months for the industry launch to go smoothly. Regulations for growing and for selling are being written. Entrepreneurs and small farmers are considering whether they can jump into the business or whether the already established companies are too strong to take on.

Cities and counties are discussing how to zone for cannabis businesses and what other regulations they might consider.

Albuquerque is leading the way, and Santa Fe needs to start catching up. While the existing zoning structure has sensible regulations for what businesses can go where, cannabis shops have their own issues. Cities want to ensure there’s no overconcentration in one part of town.

Given the reality that cannabis tourism is likely to take off, we would wager marijuana shops will be in the historic district, as well as along Cerrillos Road or on the south side. Businesses want to be where the customers are.

Legalization leads to other considerations. Hotels and other lodging places likely will have to establish rules for what can and cannot be used in their locations, just as they do for smokers.

A big area of concern — one not worked out even in states that have had legal marijuana for years — will be public safety. Just because cannabis is legal, people cannot drive under the influence or show up for work stoned every day.

It already is illegal to drive impaired, but testing lawbreakers remains complicated because marijuana lingers in the body; tests simply show past use, not a user’s current state. Those rules, including developing accurate tests to catch impaired drivers, are being developed.

Then there is the workplace to consider. Will employers want to test all employees for marijuana? Or only test people who operate machinery or drive for a living? What about medical patients versus recreational users? Except in areas where safety is a concern, such tests invade privacy and won’t do much except waste an employer’s money.

One bright spot, for medical patients at least, is they now can purchase a less expensive product. Gross receipts taxes are no longer being charged on medicinal cannabis, saving patients money and giving marijuana the same exemption other prescription medicines receive.

The world is changing, and rapidly. Cannabis is legal. The new industry won’t replace oil and gas as a source of tax revenue, but it is another step in diversifying New Mexico’s economy. And diversification is essential to build a healthy foundation for the future. It is a brave new world, indeed.

(13) comments

Malcolm Murray

One big problem we have had in Colorado is that many small businesses lost their leases because the marijuana shops can afford much higher rents. Landlords raised rents considerably to the higher profit entities.

Prince Michael Jauregui

Again: We've all seen how well Alcohol, Tobacco and Gambling worked-out for the state and the nation.

The soul of a country, sold-out to Sin Taxes.

Mike Johnson

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Khal Spencer

Indeed, Prince. Next big billboard will say "Smoke one for a Student Scholarship"

Richard Irell

And we have all seen how well prohibition has worked.

Although prohibition of these “vices” has been a boon to criminal gangs.

Khal Spencer

Prohibition only helps criminal enterprises. My view is to legalize but not promote.

Khal Spencer

The stupidity of this whole effort is astounding. Rather than working to turn around a state that is dead last in quality of life and fighting for lanterne rouge in educational standards, poverty, and illiteracy, and which is already awash in drug addiction and its horrors, we celebrate making dope the high profile effort for boosting our state's economic development.

I'm in favor of legalization to avoid ruining people's lives (any more than they ruin it themselves; its a free country) with criminal convictions. Not in favor of pushing marijuana any more than pushing alcohol, prostitution, or any other vices.

But as far as New Mexico is concerned, I guess Bob Dylan was right: Everybody Must Get Stoned. Get Stoned for the People! Get Stoned for the Economy!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qnoxKXkPqEE

Mike Johnson

Indeed Khal, and consider that since there is no legal place to buy dope until April, but it is legal to possess, smoke, eat, etc., what do you think people will be doing? There are already widespread reports of huge sales increases in the backstreets, alleys, and parks around the state and the blackmarket cartel dealers are making a killing off this stupidity that was put in place. Why didn't they think about what was going to happen?

Khal Spencer

"...why didn't they think...?" You are accusing our esteemed leadership of thinking??? This is indeed quite a windfall for Dealer McDope. I wonder if any of our legislators are taking some time off of their regular jobs to sell dime bags in those alleyways.

What we need to do is make the state motto something out of the Fat Furry Freak Brothers comix, put a pot plant instead of the Zia on the state flag, and put a bud instead of a chile on our license plates. Be good for advertising, eh?

Mike Johnson

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Prince Michael Jauregui

"No, Dave's not here man" - Pedro de Pacas

"I used to be with It. Then It became dark and scary." Abraham Simpson

Richard Irell

People will be doing what they have been doing over the last few years; driving to Trinidad and Antonito and paying Colorado taxes.

Richard Irell

Love the “There are reports . . . “

You have learned Trump’s lessons well.

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